For many years, the red telephone box on the corner of Bellfield Street and Abercorn Terrace served as a well-known meeting and communication point for residents of the Edinburgh suburb of Portobello (or “Porty” for short). As public telephone use declined, authorities began removing many of these iconic boxes, but the local community of Porty rallied behind this particular phone box in order to give it a second life.
A crowdfunding campaign was proposed to make this the first phone box in the world to be officially turned into an art gallery. While the phone box had previously been intervened with installations—like a hand-knit telephone donated anonymously and hung in its interior—it wasn’t until after its successful campaign that it finally became the Light Box, a tiny and quirky art gallery.
The first official exhibit was in November 2013, featuring drawings made by local schoolchildren. Since then, the Porty Light Box has been showcasing a rotating variety of displays, most created by local Portobello and Edinburgh artists. Merging of something as iconically, traditionally British as a red phone box with new art forms inspired by the space, the Light Box represents a hopeful glimpse at the future of repurposing public infrastructure.
Know Before You Go
The Light Box is placed next to one of Portobello's main roads and visible at any time. Check the official site for the current exhibits; some feature lighting that makes it better to visit at night.